What is excessive consumption ? An addiction to Mindless activity's that gives us temporary "Pleasure." Scrolling on social media, binge watching tv shows and movies, endless hours of video games, porn, even more scrolling. Its frying your dopamine receptors, by overloading your mind with too much. You're training your mind to constantly be on the hunt for more dopamine. This is why you can't focus, why you can't sleep. This is why you so often lose motivation, struggle to be present, slowly but surely ruining your life.
Humans are not designed to be exposed to the amount of stimulation the modern world constantly brings. This is why Modern Stoics advise us to exercise the virtue of moderation. You can benefit from most things if done in moderation.
What does moderation mean?
Moderation means not overdoing things, nor underdoing them. A good example of this would be going to the gym. We can all agree that going to the gym is good for you, not just good for you but more of a necessity. However if you work out to much you will actually damage your body instead of improving it. This is a perfect example of where moderation is extremely important. Even something that's really good for you such as working out can ultimately be bad for you if done in excess.
The same is true for social media's like Tiktok the algorithm is rather predatory when it comes to moderation, its designed to keep you scrolling for as long as possible. There's many obvious downsides to this like wasted time etc. But there's also some hidden ones that are a bit more sinister. As your brain continues to crave more dopamine, you want quicker and quicker hits. Shortening your attention span, making it more and more difficult to pay attention to longer videos, or read books that take longer amounts of time to give you a dopamine release. As your attention span shortens, your ability to retain detailed information decreases as well, which can obviously lead to decreased intelligence. Now that's not to say that social media platforms like Tiktok are entirely bad, because they're not. Tiktok and other similar platforms have many benefits if used in moderation. The ability to display your ideas and enjoy a creative platform has never been easier. But once again moderation is key.
The stoics on moderation and excess.
Remember you can stay happy as long as there are no corresponding pains according to Epicurus. "The wise man drinks a little to attain pleasure but to much as he will cause himself pain." (A hangover) This does not only work with substances such as alcohol, but also for things like social media. Social media allows us to stay connected, express our ideas and learn new things. But too much of it can damage you emotionally, physically and financially if its distracting you from doing what you need to do.
Here are some of my favorite quotes that can help with learning to lead a life of discipline and moderation.
1. “Stop allowing your mind to be a slave, to be jerked about by selfish impulses, to kick against fate and the present, and to mistrust the future” Meditations. 2.2
2. “And as long as nothing satisfies you, you yourself cannot satisfy others ” Letter from A Stoic 19
3. “How to Act: Never under compulsion, out of selfishness, without forethought, with misgivings. “Meditations 3.5
4. “If you do the job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions, and keep the spirit inside you undamaged, as if you might have to give it back at any moment— If you can embrace this without fear or expectation—can
find fulfillment in what you’re doing now, as Nature intended, and in superhuman truthfulness (every word, every utterance)—then your life will be happy.” Meditations 3.12
5. “Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life—that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.”
6. “Eat merely to relieve your hunger; drink merely to quench your thirst; dress merely to keep out the cold; house yourself merely as a protection against personal discomfort.” Letters from a Stoic